22 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Jan Davis was an unheralded guitar slinger who haunted the Los Angeles studio scene in the early ‘60s and cut a number of blazing solo instrumental sides along the way. Boss Guitar collects 20 singles that Davis released during this period. Many guitarists of the era found a successful style early in their careers and stuck with it, like the nimble-fingered minor-key surf rock of Dick Dale, the tightly wound fuzztone of Travis Wammack, or the distortion-drenched biker tunes of Davie Allan. For his part, Davis impatiently leapt from style to style. One moment he’d turn out something like “Watusi Zombie”—a truly zonked-out bit of rockabilly-inflected camp—and then he’d slow down the pace for the likes of “The Unwanted,” a noir-ish mood piece combining the glowering distortion of Davie Allan with the grandiose theatrics of Ennio Morricone. Davis’ stylistic restlessness lends a compelling eclecticism to Boss Guitar, which will continue to surprise listeners long after most compilations of guitar instrumentals would have worn out their welcome.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Jan Davis was an unheralded guitar slinger who haunted the Los Angeles studio scene in the early ‘60s and cut a number of blazing solo instrumental sides along the way. Boss Guitar collects 20 singles that Davis released during this period. Many guitarists of the era found a successful style early in their careers and stuck with it, like the nimble-fingered minor-key surf rock of Dick Dale, the tightly wound fuzztone of Travis Wammack, or the distortion-drenched biker tunes of Davie Allan. For his part, Davis impatiently leapt from style to style. One moment he’d turn out something like “Watusi Zombie”—a truly zonked-out bit of rockabilly-inflected camp—and then he’d slow down the pace for the likes of “The Unwanted,” a noir-ish mood piece combining the glowering distortion of Davie Allan with the grandiose theatrics of Ennio Morricone. Davis’ stylistic restlessness lends a compelling eclecticism to Boss Guitar, which will continue to surprise listeners long after most compilations of guitar instrumentals would have worn out their welcome.

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1:40
1:59
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2:01
2:16
2:09
2:27
2:19
2:24
1:52
2:24
2:12
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2:10
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2:24
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2:14

About Jan Davis

If you've seen Pulp Fiction, that's Jan Davis yelling at the top of his lungs during one of the film's key songs, Dick Dale's "Misirlou." Davis had been a busy session guitarist when "Misirlou" was recorded, called in whenever a song needed his rocking guitar or his crazy vocalizing. It was his ability to arrange and write music that landed Davis a gig with the popular B. Bumble & the Stingers, a group of studio musicians who released albums of classical pieces in a rock & roll style. A&M Records signed the guitarist and released his song "Fugitive" as a single in 1964. The Ventures quickly covered and had a runaway hit with "Fugitive," while the rest of Davis' own singles failed to climb the charts.

Davis switched to acoustic guitar and turned to lighter pop and easy listening. Flamenco music was his inspiration and his Latin-flavored instrumental "Hot Sauce" went Top Ten on Billboard's adult contemporary chart. On the other hand, the Hot Sauce album went nowhere, and Davis was once again looking for a change of direction. Arranger, old friend, and fellow B. Bumble & the Stingers' member Rene Joseph Hall got in touch with Davis and asked if he would be interested in playing solo guitar with an orchestra. Davis toured, playing Hall's arrangements with different pops orchestras. Davis' own Stone Tiger Records documented one of these shows recorded on California's coastline as Concert by the Sea, released in 2000. Stone Tiger also released Davis' new solo albums Diversified Genres and I Loved You Too Much, along with Rock 'N Flamenco, an album with his new rocking group the Spain Gang. In 2004, reissue label Sundazed released Boss Guitar: The Best of Jan Davis, a collection of his '60s recordings including the original version of "Fugitive." ~ David Jeffries

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